Going into this week's set of games, Philadelphia had just three active big men: Henry Sims, Nerlens Noel, and tweener Jerami Grant. While they were lucky enough to steal a couple of victories over Miami and Orlando, the Sixers desperately needed some frontcourt reinforcements before they start their five-game road trip in Portland. Enter Furkan Aldemir and Malcolm Thomas.
Aldemir has missed the last three games with plantar fasciitis in his right foot but is hoping to return tonight against the Trail Blazers. Thomas started the 2014 season with the Sixers but was waived after five games after needing left knee surgery. While Brett Brown is going to have to find minutes for five big men, there are worse problems for the team to have.
Aldemir was one of the better rebounders in Turkey, averaging nearly 12 a game during his shortened 2014 season with Galatasaray. In his first go around in Philadelphia, Thomas brought down 4.6 rebounds a game in limited time, equating to 11.7 boards per 36 minutes played. For a team that's second to last in the league in rebounding differential, these two will certainly be welcomed with open arms.
This should also hopefully bring an end to Luc Mbah a Moute being a small ball power forward, which emerged only because of lack of depth and the preconceived notion that the Cameroonian could still defend. He's undersized, not physically imposing, and because of that bigger power forwards beat up on him. Within 10 feet, opponents field goal percentage increases from 54.6% 55.6% when Mbah a Moute is defending, and increases from 60.2% to 65.1% within 6 feet. When Thomas is on the floor (in a small sample size), opponent's field goal percentage plummets 54.5% to 40% within 10 feet, and drops from 59.7% to 38.5% within 6 feet.
While Thomas's sample size is obviously smaller, it's pretty apparent that the way Mbah a Moute is being utilized is the Achilles heel in a relatively solid team defense. Mbah a Moute became a prominent defender for his ability to lockdown the perimeter, not for his work in the low post. With LaMarcus Aldridge and Portland up on Friday and Derrick Favors, Blake Griffin, and others in the near future, it might be time for a permanent switch.
Also, this could give Brett Brown the chance to experiment by playing Jerami Grant predominantly at the small forward spot. His outside shooting is poor, and the little damage Grant has done offensively has come inside the paint, but with Philadelphia's new found depth in the front court, it may be worth a try. The combination of great lateral quickness and a 7' 2" wingspan could limit the effectiveness of Nic Batum and other opposing small forwards.
For the first time all season, the Sixers have a front court that's relatively loaded. If Brett Brown uses the team's depth correctly, they could be well on their way to a couple more wins in the near future.